Corporate Landscaping Opts for Native Plants Over Manicured Lawns

The former headquarters of Air Products in eastern Pennsylvania had a neatly manicured lawn and boxwood hedges. But when the industrial gas company recently moved near Allentown and built a new office building, it tried something different.

Instead of planting grasses that require constant watering, mowing and fertilizing, we turned to native plants that do most of the work themselves. Now shoulder-high grass sways in the wind and attracts wildlife.

“At one factory, there were yellow finches around,” said Patrick J. Garay, vice president of strategic projects for Air Products.

Forget the fuss. These days, the corporate landscape is becoming more natural.

Change — Reflecting what’s happening in public parks. college campus And even in homeowners’ backyards, it’s being driven by a growing awareness of the environmental costs of installing and maintaining lawns, trimmed hedges and neat flower borders. New laws ban the use of water for “useless” grass in drought-prone areas, and corporate sustainability programs target land on which buildings are built. The app calculates a landscape’s carbon footprint in much the same way it monitors a building’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a need for more scientific and ecological rigor behind planting design,” says Michael Grove, director of landscape architecture, civil engineering and ecology at design firm Sasaki, which helped develop the two carbon-tracking apps. There are.”

The backlash against conventional landscaping may surprise those who think all green plants should be equally good for the planet.

But as manicured lawns give way to meadows and annual borders give way to native plants like wild wool, some might say it’s looser and messier. I don’t know, but my sense of beauty is taking hold. It can be said that it is like a sleeping head in terms of gardening.

The new wave of landscape design is Mid-20th century corporate campus. Buildings are often laid on velvety emerald carpets, which contribute to his more than 40 million acres of lawn in America. Will the public be able to get used to the new look?

“It requires a major mindset shift,” says Jose Arminana, president of Andropogon, the landscape design firm that designed the Air Products site.

Kentucky bluegrass, a common lawn grass, absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But propagating the same grass species everywhere comes at the expense of native plants that harmonize with local climates and provide food and habitat for endangered birds, bees and butterflies. And keeping your lawn green comes with environmental costs like constant watering, weeding, mowing, and blowing.

“Buildings reach private audiences, but landscapes are what the public sees,” said Barbara Deutsch, chief executive of the non-profit Landscape Architecture Foundation.

Lawns are everywhere at the Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. However, after the company was released, campus master plan Proposing a more “natural environment,” the school decided to rethink the Arboretum’s 20-acre lawn. Christopher Small, Ford’s Global Campus Master Planning and Architectural Design Manager, said the lawn under and around the trees sometimes had to be mowed “multiple times a week.”

Working with landscape design firm OJB, Ford expanded the arboretum site and redeveloped it to include a pond to capture and filter rainwater. The company has planted meadow grasses and wildflowers, and now he has a boardwalk in the 300 m high meadow that requires mowing only twice a year.

“A lot of people would look at us with skepticism when we proposed something like that 15 years ago,” said James Barnett, president of OJB. “It’s a lot easier to sell now.”

in 2021 investigation Three-quarters of the more than 500 members of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a professional association, say more clients are requesting design solutions to address climate change than in the previous year.

State and local regulations are also driving change.

Stormwater management requirements are driving the creation of vegetated ditches known as bioswales to reduce runoff when it rains.a New Nevada Law Prohibits the use of Colorado River water to irrigate “non-functioning or “useless” grass. The Colorado River has shrunk in width after decades of overuse and drought caused by climate change. Property owners who replace exotic grasses, shrubs, and trees with desert plants are eligible for water bill rebates.

Los Angeles has 298 commercial, industrial and institutional customers enrolled in its unique service. rebate program Since 2015, businesses have received $5 per square foot to replace lawns with California poppies and other drought-tolerant native plants, according to Terrence McCarthy, the city’s water resources policy manager. He added that companies that made the switch didn’t have to run their sprinklers all the time, which reduced their water bills.

The US Green Building Council, which administers LEED certification for sustainable buildings, has an equivalent program, SITES, aimed at landscapes that promote biodiversity, conserve resources, and protect ecosystems. Of the 317 projects registered in the program, 11 percent are commercial, according to program director Daniel Pieranunzi. “We don’t just design for beauty,” she added.

Hewlett-Packard worked with landscape design firm Stack Rock Group to replace turfgrass with a conventional seed mix to reduce water use and mowing, reducing landscaping costs by approximately 50 percent and reducing carbon footprint. We achieved SITES certification for our Boise, Idaho campus by reducing volume by 90 percent. . One of the things that has increased is honey production for the campus beekeeping club. This is probably because the pollinating insects are eaten buffet style. HP then spent his $404,000 to completely renovate its campus in Corvallis, Oregon, and earned his SITES certification at that facility as well.

However, these new landscapes aren’t going to be lighthearted any time soon. Invasive plants may need to be removed until native species become infested. And setting up a meadow isn’t necessarily cheaper than setting up a lawn or flower border.

However, the environmental benefits can be significant. According to , pastures benefit pollinators and enrich the soil. new research.Some landscapes are designed as “Climate Positive” It takes in more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits from installation and maintenance.

Landscape architect Pamela Conrad carbon tracking app This provided guidance on how site planners could absorb more carbon. Konrad said there are 787 projects successfully running on the app so far, with last year’s project reducing carbon footprint by 12 percent.

“Adding pavement lowers the numerical score, and it will take 50 years to offset our carbon footprint,” she said. “If you grow more trees, it will only take 10 years.”

Even businesses that take an eco-friendly approach often need a lawn for throwing a Frisbee or working outdoors. But many people keep their lawn to a minimum by using a native lawn or simply mowing less.

Reactions to the hairy look seem to be mixed.Where property owners are present “No Mo May” — Lawn mowers left unused until June — Angry neighbors brought their own machines. A Maryland couple fought with a homeowners association over a decision to grow sunflowers and phlox instead of grass. (Their battle ultimately resulted in changing state law.)

“There’s a perception that if it looks a little rough, it looks ungroomed,” says Chris Gillard, principal at landscape design firm CMG.

Garay said Air Products faced “questions of what they were doing” at their new Allentown location, especially when the pasture had just been planted and “looked like a field of weeds.” It is said that

Air Products explained the new approach in an internal newsletter and installed signage on the premises. Garay spoke at a community gathering about how pastures can benefit the environment.

“You’ll see people nod when they ask why,” he said. “People are beginning to understand that these small impacts add up.”

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